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Bagration, prevented by Jerome of Westphalia from pursuing his route towards Drissa, changed his course towards Minsk; but finding himself outstripped there too, he made for the Beresina, and effected a passage at Bobruisk. He then ascended the Dnieper as far as Mohilev; but, finding himself anticipated by Davoust, he attacked that general in the hope of cutting his way through. In this he failed, after a sharply-contested engagement, and once more he retired down the Dnieper, and crossed at Nevoi-Bikoff, which enabled him to pursue his course for a union with Barclay de Tolly, who was making for Smolensk. Thus Bagration, though running imminent hazard of being cut off, managed to out-man?uvre Napoleon himselfa new event in his campaigns. On his march, his troops had several encounters with the French and Polish cavalry; but Platoff showed great gallantry, and often severely punished the enemy.

"Mourir pour la patrie,

LADY HAMILTON WELCOMING THE VICTORS OF THE NILE.

On the 8th of October Murat landed near Pizzo, on the Calabrian coasta coast more than any other in Italy fraught with fierce recollections of the French. His army now consisted of only twenty-eight men; yet, in his utter madness, he advanced at the head of this miserable knot of men, crying, "I am your king, Joachim!" and waving the Neapolitan flag. But the people of Pizzo, headed by an old Bourbon partisan, pursued him, not to join, but to seize him. When they began firing on him, he fled back to his vessels; but the commander, a man who had received the greatest benefits from him, deaf to his cries,[117] pushed out to sea, and left him. His pursuers were instantly upon him, fired at him, and wounded him; then rushing on him, they knocked him down and treated him most cruelly. Women, more like furies than anything else, struck their nails into his face and tore off his hair, and he was only saved from being torn to pieces by the old Bourbon and his soldiers, who beat off these female savages and conveyed him to the prison at Pizzo. The news of his capture was a great delight to Ferdinand. He entertained none of the magnanimity of the Allies, but sent at once officers to try by court-martial and, of course, to condemn him. Some of these officers had been in Murat's service, and had received from him numerous favours, but not the less readily did they sentence him to death; and on the 13th of October, 1815, he was shot in the courtyard of the prison at Pizzowith characteristic bravery refusing to have his eyes bound, and with characteristic vanity bidding the soldiers "save his face, and aim at his heart!"

At the Church of St. Anne, Shandon, under a kind of shed attached to a guard-house, lay huddled up in their filthy fetid rags about forty human creaturesmen, women, children, and infants of the tenderest agestarving and fever-stricken, most of them in a dying state, some dead, and all gaunt, yellow, hideous from the combined effects of famine and disease. Under this open shed they had remained during the night, and until that hourabout ten in the morningwhen the funeral procession was passing by, and their indescribable misery was beheld by the leading citizens of Cork, including the mayor, and several members of the board of guardians. The odour which proceeded from that huddled-up heap of human beings was of itself enough to generate a plague.

Notwithstanding all this treachery and barbarity, General Elphinstone, feeling his situation desperate, was weak enough to trust the Afghan chiefs, and to enter into a convention with them on the 1st of January, in the hope of saving the garrison from destruction. The negotiations were carried on by Major Pottinger, the defender of Herat, and it was agreed that the former treaty should remain in force, with the following additional terms:That the British should leave behind all their guns excepting six; that they should immediately give up all their treasures;[496] and that hostages should be exchanged for married men with their wives and families. To this, however, the married men refused to consent, and it was not insisted on.

The examination of the witnesses for the defence continued till the 24th of October, and then powerful speeches were delivered by the Attorney-General, Sir Robert Gifford, and by the Solicitor-General, Mr. Copley. The speech of the former was considered so effective, that William Cobbett threw off one hundred thousand copies of an answer to it. Sir Archibald Alison, the Tory historian, admits that it was not the evidence for the prosecution that told against the queen, "for it was of so suspicious a kind that little reliance could be placed on it, but what was elicited on cross-examination from the English officers on board the vessel which conveyed her Majesty to the Levantmen of integrity and honour, of whose testimony there was not a shadow of suspicion. Without asserting that any of them proved actual guilt against her Majesty, it cannot be disputed that they established against her an amount of levity of manner and laxity of habits, which rendered her unfit to be at the head of English society, and amply justified the measures taken to exclude her from it."

During the excitement that followed the passing of the Emancipation Act incessant attacks were made upon the character of the Duke of Wellington. Perhaps the most violent of these was published in the Standard by the Earl of Winchilsea, one of the most ardent of the anti-Catholic peers, who charged the Premier with disgraceful conduct. The offence was contained in a letter addressed by Lord Winchilsea to Mr. Coleridge, secretary to the committee for establishing the King's College, London. He said he felt rather doubtful as to the sincerity of the motives which had actuated some of the prime movers in that undertaking, "when he considered that the noble duke at the head of his Majesty's Government had been induced on this occasion to assume a new character, and to step forward himself as the public advocate of religion and morality." He then proceeded:"Late political events have convinced me that the whole transaction was intended as a blind to the Protestant and High Church party; that the[300] noble duke, who had, for some time previous to that period, determined upon breaking in upon the Constitution of 1688, might the more effectually, under the cloak of some outward show of zeal for the Protestant religion, carry on his insidious designs for the infringement of our liberties, and the introduction of Popery into every department of the State." The Duke having obtained from Lord Winchilsea an avowal of the authorship, demanded a retractation or apology, which was refused. The matter was then referred to friends, and a hostile meeting was agreed upon. "It is," says Mr. Gleig, "a curious feature in this somewhat unfortunate occurrence, that when the moment for action arrived it was found that the Duke did not possess a pair of duelling-pistols. Considering the length of time he had spent in the army, and the habits of military society towards the close of the last century, that fact bore incontestable evidence to the conciliatory temper and great discretion of the Duke. Sir Henry Hardinge, therefore, who acted as his friend, was forced to look for pistols elsewhere, and borrowed them at lasthe himself being as unprovided as his principalfrom Dr. Hume, the medical man who accompanied them to the ground. The combatants met in Battersea Fields, now Battersea Park. Lord Winchilsea, attended by the Earl of Falmouth, having received the Duke's fire, discharged his pistol in the air. A written explanation was then produced, which the Duke declined to receive unless the word 'apology' was inserted; and this point being yielded, they separated as they had met, with cold civility."